Gone but by no means forgotten

It is with great regret that we must report the demise — last Saturday — of Dr. Gerald (“Gerry”) Chodak — formerly a professor of urology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Your sitemaster first met Gerry Chodak in 1989 at a meeting in California, and communicated with him regularly over the next 30 years … this year included. From the perspective of the prostate cancer patient community, just a few of Gerry’s accomplishments included:

  • The foundation of Us TOO, when Gerry brought some of his patients together in his office in Chicago and suggested to them (in no uncertain terms) that they needed to build a patient advocacy and support organization for prostate cancer patients
  • Being one of the very earliest advocates for active monitoring of carefully selected patients in order to prevent over-treatment (which did not endear him to a number of his colleagues in the urology community)
  • Also being very clear that there were risks as well as benefits associated with screening for prostate cancer, and that these risks needed to be made clear to patients.

Gerry Chodak was opinionated, funny, strong-willed, data-driven, and above all patient-oriented. He was always willing to ask the questions that no one else wanted to raise. And he would always note that when we didn’t have conclusive data about the risks and benefits of specific forms of treatment for prostate cancer, then we needed to be cautious about reaching unjustified conclusions.

Gerry was also smart as a whip … and would willingly share his knowledge with others (sometimes whether they wanted to hear it or not). Your sitemaster would talk regularly to Gerry to get his opinions about new tests, new treatments, and how they compared to known standards of care. We didn’t always agree but we always entertained each other.

It was a great honor that when Gerry finally got around to writing one of the most straightforward books about prostate cancer for patients (Winning the Battle Against Prostate Cancer, which was first published in 2010), your sitemaster was one of the people who he asked to read and comment on early drafts.

Another, more detailed obituary and memorial to Gerry Chodak has been written by Howard Wolinsky and appears on the MedPage Today web site.

Gerry Chodak will be much missed.

7 Responses

  1. You first introduced me to Gerry in 2008. I could not have disagreed with him more on several prostate cancer hot topics at the time. But Gerry was ahead of me in thinking about over-treatment. He wrote “Dr. Chodak’s Bottom Line” in the UsTOO Hotsheets for years, including this current month’s Hotsheet thus indicating he passed suddenly. His contributions were numerous. Bottom Line: RIP Gerry. And thank you.

  2. Sorry to hear. I was just in touch. He helped me on my personal “journey” over the past 9 years. He was a pioneer and a change agent. I wrote about him over the past 40 years. He founded Us TOO.

  3. I was honored and very grateful to have Gerald Chodak as a consultant when I most needed one. His videos firstly educated and empowered me, and later inspired me to make one or two of my own.

  4. My condolences

  5. The prostate cancer ‘community’ has lost one of its most innovative contributors and realists. I always found his online and video critiques extremely enlightening and his excellent book one that will never leave my bookshelf. His passing has left a crucial information gap that will be hard to overcome any time soon. I’m grateful that he was here during my prostate cancer journey. … I learned so much from him.

    Condolences to his loving family.

  6. I grew up with Gerry in high school and college. I remember when he was devastated when he was cut from the high school basketball team. His father, without means, went and got him the best tennis teacher on Long Island and Gerry became the captain of tennis at the University of Rochester. It demonstrates his drive and commitment

    He also delivered newspapers to my house and commented recently to me that my parents were cheap tippers. He was right. My 96-year-old mother still is!

    Howard Honig, MD

  7. I’m really sorry to hear of Dr. Chodak’s passing. I watched some of his videos early on in my prostate cancer experience, and they were a great help.

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